Italian research guide now available!

The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy by Melanie Holtz, one of the Virtual Institute’s co-owners and instructors, has just been published by Family Tree Books (publishers of Family Tree Magazine)!

According to the publisher’s description,

The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide features:

  • Basic information on starting your family history research, including how to trace your immigrant ancestor back to Italy
  • Strategies for uncovering genealogy records (including passenger lists, draft cards, and birth, marriage, and death records) from both the United States and Italy, with annotated sample records
  • Crash-course guides to Italian history, geography and names
  • Helpful Italian genealogical word lists
  • Sample letters for requesting records from Italian archives

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, is a full-time professional genealogist and owner of Lo Schiavo Genealogica, an international business that maintains offices in both the United States and Italy. She travels frequently to Italy, expanding her skills in genealogy, history, and language. In 2010, Melanie became a board-certified genealogist and has worked as a professional genealogist for fourteen years. Her love of travel and the Italian language played a large part in the vocation she chose.

Friends of the Virtual Institute can save 10% by using the code FTITALIAN at checkout (coupon code expires 31 December 2017).

Melanie also has two recorded courses available from the Virtual Institute:

She also has a very exciting lecture coming up as part of our Occasional Webinar Series:

“The Proietti: Researching an Abandoned Child in Italy” on Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 8:00pm (EDT)

This lecture focuses on a common problem within Italian genealogical research, when your research encounters an ancestor who was abandoned by their natural parents. Does this mean an end to the family line? What records might reveal the situation around the abandonment? Have you exhausted all resources that might provide information on this ancestor, directly or indirectly? Information on abandoned ancestors can be found in several different types of records, including civil, parish, and notarial records. We’ll learn about the social and political policies surrounding these ancestors, adoptions, the foster care system, and recognitions.

Email address for syllabus & recordings::

APG Members Discount on all past recorded courses

Are you a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists?

If so, then by now you are probably aware of the Continuing Professional Education requirement that went into effect at the beginning of this year. You may not know that all three founders and the current co-owners have all served on the APG Board of Directors over the years. We have long been committed to serving our professional community and that commitment continues.

Virtual Institute courses are a great way to meet the 12-hour CPE requirement. With each course providing 6 hours of education, our collection of past courses and schedule of upcoming courses will easily allow you to continue to develop your trade.

The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research now offers an APG members-only 10% discount on all course recording packages. For more details on how to claim this discount, just log into your APG Members account, click on “Membership Discount Program,” and then go to the page for the Virtual Institute. There you will find a coupon code that can be used on all recording packages. Just enter the coupon code when you check out and the discount will be applied to all recording packages—no time limits or purchase limits!

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research Launches Occasional Webinar Series

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research Announces Occasional Webinar Series


RALEIGH, North Carolina, 27 September 2017. The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research is pleased to announce the commencement of its new Occasional Webinar Series. The Series will supplement the Institute’s standard six-hour courses and bring further diversity to its educational offerings.

In its short three-year history, the Virtual Institute has hosted 30 individual six-hour courses from 19 different instructors. Through the Occasional Webinar Series, the Virtual Institute will periodically invite speakers to present shorter one-hour webinars featuring unique content. The Series will support the Virtual Institute’s mission to provide high-quality, low-cost genealogical and historical education on a wide variety of topics from leading subject-matter experts.

Live attendance in future webinars requires prior registration. The cost for registration is $9.99 which includes the syllabus material and a video recording of the lecture. Attendance is limited to 100 students. After the live session, recording packages with the syllabus will be available for purchase and immediate download at a cost of $19.99.

“Some topics are so specialized that a six-hour course may not be the most appropriate format,” co-founder Michael Hait, CG, CGL, stated. “The Occasional Webinar Series will allow instructors to explore some of these other topics without the need to fit them into the standard course format. Conversely, the one-hour webinar format requires less of a time commitment from our dedicated students while still providing them with access to a unique educational opportunity.”

Four webinars will be presented over the coming months:

  • Melanie D. Holtz, CG, “The Proietti: Researching an Abandoned Child in Italy,” Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 8:00pm (EDT)
  • Bryna O’Sullivan, “Luxembourg Genealogy: The Basics,” Friday, 1 December 2017, 8:00pm (EST)
  • Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., “How Are We Related? Using the Shared cM Project to Explore Your DNA Matches,” Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 8:00pm (EST)
  • LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, “Researching Enslaved Ancestors in South Carolina,” Wednesday, 14 March 2018, 8:00pm (EDT)

Additional lectures in the Webinar Series continue to be negotiated and will be announced through the Virtual Institute News mailing list.

For more information on the Occasional Webinar Series visit


About the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research

The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research offers year-round online education on a wide variety of genealogical subjects. Each course consists of six hours of live instruction, extensive syllabus material, and practical exercises. Limited class sizes and a Plus course option allow for a higher level of class participation and instructor feedback than typically offered remotely. For more information visit or email

Course recordings now available on cemeteries and lecturing

Three courses have been recently added to the Virtual Institute Store:

LaDonna Garner, M.A., R.V.T., “Where Thou May Rest: Researching Cemeteries for Genealogy, Part I

LaDonna Garner, M.A., R.V.T., “Where Thou May Rest: Researching Cemeteries for Genealogy, Part II

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, “The Fine Points of Making Your Point: Honing Your Lecturing Skills

All of our past courses can be purchased in the Virtual Institute Store for $69.99. The recording packages include all four 90-minute sessions, as well as all of the syllabus material and practical assignments.

Take time to visit our Store—and while you’re there, take a look at all of the past courses we have available!

Last chance to register for Elissa Scalise Powell’s “The Fine Points of Making Your Point”

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, is a familiar face in front of genealogy audiences around the country. For years, she has lectured for local and state genealogical societies, at regional conferences around the country, at national conferences for the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and at week-long institutes where she has coordinated courses at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is also co-owner and administrator of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh and, of course, has presented two courses for the Virtual Institute (Professional Genealogy I and Professional Genealogy II).

With all of this experience under her belt, Elissa has converted her skills into attaining and maintaining the Certified Genealogical Lecturer credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Now she wants to share her breadth of knowledge with Virtual Institute students. Topics discussed include evaluating your readiness, developing topics, creating PowerPoint slides and handouts, marketing your lectures and courses, and doing webinars.

“The Fine Points of Making Your Point: Honing Your Lecturing Skills” will begin this Saturday, September 9, 2017. Registration will remain open until Friday, September 8.

For full details and to register, visit this page.


Register now for Garner’s Cemetery Research I & II

In just two weeks, LaDonna Garner, M.A., R.V.T., will present the first part of her two-part course “Where Thou May Rest: Researching Cemeteries for Genealogy.”

Cemeteries—the resting places of many of our ancestors—hold a special place in the hearts of many genealogists. LaDonna Garner has a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation with a focus on forgotten communities and cemetery preservation. With this unique perspective, she will offer insight into the evolution of burial traditions, gravestones, and cemeteries, allowing genealogists to glean as much information as possible from these special places.

Part I runs 17 June–24 June 2017. For more details and to register, click here.

Part II will continue with more advanced information, running 8 July–15 July 2017. For more details and to register, click here.

Bettinger’s “Visual Phasing” recording now available!

The recording package is now available for “Visual Phasing: Mapping DNA to Your Grandparents” with Blaine Bettinger. If you weren’t able to attend the course live, you can purchase all four 90-minute lectures (six total hours!) and all syllabus material for just $69.99.

Visit the Virtual Institute Store to purchase this and our other courses.

Visual Phasing is one of the hottest new tools in genealogy. It allows you to map the DNA of two or more siblings to the four grandparents, WITHOUT having tested either the parents or grandparents. As we’ll see, with enough siblings, it allows you to recreate almost the entire genomes of your four grandparents. You’ll also be able to quickly determine which of the four grandparents’ lines each of your matches share!